Nature travel is mostly about being in nature, but there are some things that can make the time out there easier and more inspired. In recent months I’ve encountered a few things that are so clever, or inspiring, that I wanted to share them with you.

SUITCASE SCOOTER: In April, I had a long wait in Heathrow airport, but wanted to avoid the crowds and get some exercise, so I decided to take the underground walking passages between terminals. I was practically alone down there, but two people were quite memorable. They were riding suitcase scooters! The suitcases are like a cross between carryon luggage and a foldable metal scooter. What a fun way to outsmart the distances when you are late for a flight! But what really stood out to me was how, unlike a backpack or standard rolling suitcase, this contraption would take all pressure off your aching neck and shoulders. Very clever, and yes, these are made for adults! (Check out the scooter feature by clicking on the photo).


CAMELBAK ALL CLEAR UV PURIFIER BOTTLE: For my September safari in Africa, I bought one of those UV water purifier “wands’ that you dip into your water and swish around to make sure it’s safe to drink. It turned out I didn’t need to use it because I always had access to bottled water, but had I discovered this two-in-one solution, I most certainly would have chosen this. The water bottle has the UV water purifier built-in. Brilliant. You probably already know reusing a water bottle is eco-friendly. This also makes it safe to drink.

“BUTTERFLY” BINOCULARS: I’ve spent a lot of time looking through binoculars, but like a lot of us, I’ve been making the distant things bigger, but missing the good views of the smaller things. A friend of mine recently tipped me off to this other type of binocular that enables you to take a closer look at those smaller things. She said it’s like carrying your own microscope into the wilds. And they are still useful for seeing distant objects like birds and wildlife.

BEYOND WORDS: WHAT ANIMALS THINK AND FEEL, BY CARL SAFINA: This book will either blow away your ideas about animal behavior and animal thoughts, or it will validate everything you already suspected about them. Written by a PhD ecologist, in a writing style that reminds me more of a beautiful painting than a scientific journal article, his observations and descriptions of what animals think and feel (particularly those that live in their own societies like elephants, wolves, and killer whale) will give you goosebumps. I have been recommending it to every animal lover I know.

HEATED SHOE INSOLES: Remote-controlled, heated insoles (that you can charge in your car!) may seem like an excess if you don’t get cold easily, but if your feet feel like blocks of ice even in winter boots, then the idea of pressing a button so you can stay outside longer, will seem like genius. One less reason to dread winter!

TELEPHOTO CELL PHONE LENS: On a hike a few months ago, one of my friends brought this clip-on telephoto phone lens for his cell phone. As a person who has now set aside her camera for the convenience and higher quality of her cell phone camera, this solves the one issue I can’t get around…that is, not being able to zoom in close enough. The one caveat? You need a steady hand, or a stand, to avoid getting blurry shots.

CAMPING HAMMOCK WITH INSECT NET: This combines all the best features from a tent, a hammock and mosquito netting. Hanging between two trees, it looks like a cocoon. This hammock helps you get around some of the perennial camping issues like rocky, hard, or sloped camping terrain. Of course you can still lay it on the ground and use it as a tent. In fact, if you have a prankster in your group, you might just want to do that.

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